Thursday, January 27, 2022

A Year in RPG Self Publishing: Year 2

Have you ever wondered if there's any money in indie RPGs? 

Have you considered making a break into the industry, or just want to earn a little extra cash on the side?

In this second annual report of my run at “making it” in RPGs, I will endeavor to answer these questions and more. I will break down how I spent my year, what I published, things I learned, and get into concrete financial realities.

I entered 2021 earning $1 an hour publishing pamphlet adventures, and I’m beginning the new year with a Kickstarter in the top 100 TTRPG crowdfunding campaigns of all time ($370,000 pledged and climbing). Let’s examine what happened in between.

I leaped into full-time RPG work last year, focusing heavily on my own publishing efforts. I ran my first Kickstarter campaign, published three zines and one pamphlet for the Mothership RPG, and started a business to house it all. 

I also grappled with chronic health issues under the mounting weight of responsibility, uncertainty, and alienation. My hobby fully metamorphosed into a job and now threatens to become a career. I gambled on a massive project that will ultimately consume two years of my life. I played almost no games for fun.

As I did in my first annual report for 2020 (which you should read if you want to hear how I got my start), I’ll begin by analyzing my 2021 RPG finances. From there, we’ll move onto a summary of this year’s lessons learned—the growing pains of a tiny publisher becoming a small publisher. Finally, I’ll walk you through a brutally honest and grounded look at my entire year month-by-month to share the highs and lows of RPG self-publishing.

Financial Realities

Barring illness and the odd holiday, I worked every single day this year on my projects. I rode a wave of intense Kickstarter management crunch into intense Kickstarter fulfillment crunch into… intense Kickstarter management crunch once again. Conservatively, I worked an average of 50-60 hours per week on RPGs. It is my sole source of income. Let’s see how well I did, shall we?